Peer Specialist Certification Program
What is a Certified Peer Specialist?
A person who has self-identified as having received or is presently receiving mental health services in personal recovery and has undergone certification training by DMH on how to assist others in recovery and resiliency. Under general supervision, a certified peer specialist performs a wide range of tasks to assist individuals to regain control over their lives and their own recovery process. A peer specialist also is a model for personal recovery and ongoing coping skills.
What is the purpose of the Peer Specialist Certification Program?
The seven week certification program provides an opportunity for individuals with lived experience to assist others receiving mental health services. It ensures that these valuable peer supports services meet acceptable standards. The program also enables providers to credential their peer support staff through the certification training.
Who is Eligible to Participate?
A self-disclosed current or previous consumer of mental health services within the Department of Mental Health network with demonstrated personal recovery and an ability to help others with their recovery is eligible to apply for the peer specialist certification program. A participant must be at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or equivalent and a resident of the District of Columbia. A participant must be willing to create and follow a wellness recovery plan.
What if I already am a Peer Advocate?
A Peer Advocate already demonstrates a high level of commitment to helping peers. The certification program will validate your skills and knowledge, increase your credibility in the mental health care industry, and support professional development. Certification also will strengthen your ability to compete for peer specialist employment.
Peer Specialist Certification Waiver
DMH accepts applications for a Peer Specialist Certification Waiver [PDF]. An applicant may request the waiver of the requirement to complete any or all of the classroom work and the field practicum based upon prior coursework or certification as a peer specialist or equivalent granted by DMH or another jurisdiction, or based upon prior or current work experience.
Does DMH provide Employment?
The Peer Specialist Certification Program helps prepare individuals to apply for available peer specialist jobs. DMH encourages its private provider network to include peer specialists in their workforce. However, successful completion of the certification program is not a guarantee of an offer of employment.
Requirements for Certification
- Completion of the required classroom work
- Completion of an 80 hour, nonpaid field practicum with a District community based mental health provider
- A score of a minimum of 85% on the certification examination
Graduates also are required to sign the Peer Specialist Code of Ethics [PDF].
Peer Specialist Certification Program Competencies
- During the seven week course, participants will learn the following competencies:
- Practical assessment skills and basic knowledge of mental health and substance abuse disorders
- Supporting skills to assist a consumer to develop skills identified in the approved Individual Recovery Plan
- Documentation of services provided including preparation of progress notes
- Computer skills
- Unique role of the peer, using self as a therapeutic presence
- Ethics and professionalism
- Recovery and Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) or similar planning
- Advocacy skills, and
- Cultural competency and sensitivity
How to Apply
A completed application [PDF] must be submitted along with a resume, evidence of education which may be a high school diploma, GED or equivalent, and two letters of reference (at least one which is work or volunteer related). Evidence of District residency also must be provided. The application will be reviewed by a Peer Specialist Certification Committee made up of consumers and the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs.
The next certification class begins on June 3, 2013. An application [PDF] for the class must be submitted to the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs by February 28, 2013 by email to Rossene.firstname.lastname@example.org. Selections will be announced by May 13, 2013. Each participant will receive a weekly stipend of $100.00 each week.
Classes will take place from June 3, 2013 to July 11, 2013 at 64 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC.
After successful completion of class work, an 80 hour field practicum must be performed with a DMH community based mental health provider. The field practicum will be arranged with the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs. The field practicum must be completed by September 7, 2013.
After the field practicum is completed, a date to take the certification examination must be arranged with the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs.